The Premier League has had its fair share of big names over the years and there are still a number of stars this season.
We’ve got the likes of Erling Haaland running away with the Golden Boot race, Mohamed Salah still causing defences so many problems and Harry Kane edging closer to history with every goal scored.
However, we’ve also seen big names leave. Within the past year alone, Antonio Rudiger has called time on his Chelsea career, Juan Mata has left Manchester United and Fernandinho said his goodbyes at Manchester City.
But every year there are players that some clubs just can’t seem to get rid off their books, for various reasons. Maybe there isn’t the interest from opposition teams for a permanent move, whether that’s due to transfer fees or potential wage demands. Whatever the reason, every year clubs seem to end up with a couple of players set to watch the campaign from afar, forgotten by most opposition fans and even some of his own supporters.
It’s those players that we’re focussing on today, the names you probably didn’t realise are still technically Premier League stars.
Darren Randolph is a unique player this season in that he could be listed as a forgotten man for two clubs. The Irish goalkeeper started the season at West Ham and was on the bench 16 times, most frequently in the Europa Conference League.
In the January transfer window he was signed by Bournemouth but has made just two appearances on the bench, failing to make the matchday squad on eight occasions – sitting behind Neto and Mark Travers in the pecking order.
Club: Aston Villa
We’ll try to steer clear of the backup goalkeeper options for this list as some are, fortunately or unfortunately, bought to fill an homegrown slot. Jed Steer is perhaps one of them, first signed from Norwich in 2013, though he has had his moments in goal for Aston Villa. Sent on loan to Luton for the second half of last season, Steer returned in the summer but did not secure another move and is yet to make a matchday squad. He is currently dealing with an injury, but that isn’t the main reason for his lack of action this season.
Club: Crystal Palace
Nathan Ferguson is an interesting one as Crystal Palace fans will surely know he’s still at the club, but opposing supporters may not. Ferguson started the season with a long-term injury — which doesn’t really count for being forgotten — and was out of action until late October, but he has since returned.
However, he has made his return to the Crystal Palace Premier League 2 side with former Eagles boss Patrick Vieira stating that the plan was for Ferguson to build up fitness having not played much football since moving to Selhurst Park due to injuries. Ferguson’s arrival was lauded as a good bit of business for a young star, but he is currently in danger of becoming a forgotten man.
Fans paying close attention to Everton’s team sheets will have seen Ruben Vinagre’s name a fair few times across the season, but those only watching the on-pitch action might not remember he plays for them. The Portuguese full-back joined on loan from Sporting CP in the summer and played 24 minutes in their first four matches, coming on as a substitute against Chelsea and then Brentford.
However, that four-minute cameo against Brentford in August was the last time Vinagre made it onto the pitch for Everton. Since then, Vinagre has been an unused substitute 17 times and hasn’t made the matchday squad on nine occasions, though he is currently nursing an injury.
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One last goalkeeper, because this one doesn’t even fill a homegrown slot. Joel Robles, previously of Wigan and Everton, returned to the Premier League last summer with Leeds United, to play backup to Ilan Meslier. But, like Vinagre, this is a move you could have easily forgotten if you don’t pay attention to unused substitutes as Robles is yet to feature in the Premier League.
If you were to ask a friend who Jannik Vestergaard plays for, how many would say Southampton? Probably more than those who would answer Leicester. Vestergaard’s move to the King Power has long been forgotten, and some may even think he left the Premier League when he made his St Mary’s exit. But the Dane is still on the books at Leicester, and things aren’t going well.
Vestergaard hasn’t played a league game for Leicester in over a year and is training alone having been banished from the first team for speaking out against now former manager Brendan Rodgers in an interview with Danish newspaper EkstraBladet.
“I really felt wanted by Brendan Rodgers,” he said in March.
“While I was at Southampton, he really convinced me that I should switch to Leicester. I was already very close to switching from Southampton to Leicester, a year and a half before it became a reality.
“So Brendan Rodgers and the club knew exactly which player they were buying with both my strengths and weaknesses, and it’s hard to understand that from one moment to the next I’m suddenly unusable.
“It feels strange, I must admit.”
There was a time when Nathaniel Phillips looked set to become a cult hero at Liverpool, playing 17 times towards the end of the 2020/21 season as they dealt with a centre-back crisis, and performing well above expectations. However, that was to be the height of his Liverpool career.
Phillips spent the second half of last season on loan at Bournemouth in the Championship, helping them gain promotion, but has made just two Premier League appearances for Liverpool in 2022/23. A regular feature on the bench in the first half of the campaign, Phillips has been seen just a handful of times post-January, which may have led some to think he had left Liverpool in the transfer window.
Club: Man Utd
Phil Jones became a meme and Manchester United and he’s once again in the headlines with some fans calling for him to start at centre-back over Harry Maguire following the season-ending injury of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane’s absence. But these aren’t kind calls for Jones, rather using the meme to bash Maguire. Not dealing with injuries, Jones hasn’t appeared in a matchday squad for Man Utd this season, and has played just 16 times since 2019/20.
A casualty of Newcastle United moving up in the world, Paul Dummett has played just 90 minutes for the Magpies this season and that came in one EFL Cup match — the 2-1 win over Tranmere Rovers in the second round. Aside from that game, Dummett has been on the bench 12 times for Newcastle across the season, and has found himself among the substitutes more recently – but he isn’t making it onto the pitch.
Club: Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest have been trying for ages to get Harry Arter off their books as they look to evolve their squad, but a move just hasn’t come through. The 33-year-old was sent out on loan twice last season but no permanent deal materialised in the summer or the January transfer window.
Arter doesn’t even have an official squad number for Nottingham Forest and wasn’t registered for Premier League action this season, and has made just 14 first team appearances for the Reds since signing in 2020.